Walking Dead Episode 201
As The Walking Dead returns for its second season, the 90-minute premier episode showed us that most of the survivors suck at survival, and that every decision in a post-apocalyptic world is gut-wrenching.
Things start out (after Rick’s cheesy walkie-talkie monologue) with a post-CDC road trip that’s quickly interrupted by a zombie traffic jam. The survivors immediately begin making questionable decisions. Dale insists they have to keep on truckin’ because they can’t spare the fuel, despite the dozens of empty cars they’re driving right past, most of which have gas in the tanks just waiting to be siphoned. They figure this out eventually, and set about looting the abandoned cars. Lori’s reticence seems odd. She complains, “This is a graveyard,” as if taking dead people’s unused gear sullies them. Haven’t these people been scavenging to survive for months? Where did this new anti-looting stance come from?
While we’re pointing out plot inconsistencies, the writers don’t seem to have any clear idea of how much noise attracts zombies or how far sound actually carries. A lot of attention is spent on the fact that they can’t always use their guns, lest they draw the attention of a nearby zombie herd. This is a great plot device that builds a lot of tension, but no one seems to mind Daryl’s thundering motorcycle, and they don’t hesitate to start up random cars whenever they want to.
I suspect they let Daryl have his ride because he’s such a badass. He’s clearly the most competent one of the group, what with his bow-hunting skills, tracking skills and zombie face-stabbing skills. Look at Dale in comparison, who acts as lookout on top of the motorhome. Dale is the crappiest lookout ever. Lookout pro tip: sometimes you should look behind you. Then you might spot the massive horde of zombies before they’re ten feet away.
Griping aside, that first 20-minute segment was one of the most tense, suspenseful pieces of television I’ve ever seen. Hiding under the cars, T-Dog’s bizarre arm injury, Andrea’s screwdriver battle and the chase in the woods with Sophia — it was white knuckle all the way. How awesome was that zombie in the motorhome? In a Famous Monsters of Filmland issue from last year, The Walking Dead’s FX crew discussed the advantages of working with zombie actors who were already fit or skinny. You could really see that pay off with this guy — he looked absolutely emaciated.
It was very interesting watching the survivors try to unravel zombie behavior. They now know they sometimes form large random groups (which the survivors call herds), but most of the time you only see a few stragglers (in the comics they refer to these as roamers). The church scene added a new, creepy twist. Why were those zombies sitting in the pews? Is there some religious significance to the zombie plague, or is there enough of a semblance of their old personalities in their rotted brains that those quaint country zombies decided to sit themselves down for a little fire and brimstone? Or did they simply recognize that Jesus was a zombie all along?
Speaking of religious undertones, the sign at the front of the church said Revelations 16:17 (also, “Welcome Bikers”). If we’re going to pry open the mysteries of this show, we need to chase these Easter eggs down!
16:16 Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon. 16:17 The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, “It is done!” 16:18 Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake.
The other Easter egg in this episode was the button worn by the suicide victim in the tent. It read, “There’s No Excuse for Domestic Violence.” True that, dead camper. True that.
The ending was quite a stunner. After Lori does the “Stand By Your Man” routine, Rick, Shane and Carl search the woods for Sophia. Carl takes a bullet (a sign from Jesus!) as he approaches a deer, and all I can think to ask is, what the hell were they expecting to happen there? They wouldn’t give Carl an axe, much less a gun, so was he supposed to wrestle the deer to death? Gnaw its legs off? I have a feeling we’re not going to find out next week.